Power Ranking the Contracts of Every Cincinnati Reds Player

Tyler Duma@@TylerDuma_BRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2014

Power Ranking the Contracts of Every Cincinnati Reds Player

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    Excluding pre-arbitration players like Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart, the Cincinnati Reds have 18 players who are either signed to big league contracts or have been assigned a salary through arbitration.

    As much as fans may like to, you can't fault a player for signing a contract he's offered. Professional athletes have a limited window to earn their money, and it's to their benefit to get as much of as they possibly can.

    While we can't fault players for signing these contracts, that doesn't mean we can't analyze and power rank them in order from worst to best. In order to do this, we'll look at the player's age at the start of the contract, the length of the contract, the total value of the contract and also the adjusted annual value—abbreviated A.A.V.

    Again, as I stated in the first sentence of this introduction, this list will not include pre-arbitration players. So, you won't see players like Frazier, Cozart, Billy Hamilton or Tony Cingrani—among others.

    Let's get down to the rankings.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and Fangraphs.com unless otherwise noted. 2014 stat projections come from Fangraphs.

    All contract information comes courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts via Baseballprospectus.com.

    All arbitration estimations come courtesy of MLBTraderumors.com's Tim Dierkes.

18. Jonathan Broxton

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 29

    Length of Contract: Three years (2013-2015) plus team option for 2016

    Total Value of Contract: $21 million (potential for $29 million with 2016 team option)

    Adjusted Annual Value: $7 million

    There was a two-horse race for worst contract on the team, and Jonathan Broxton won—or lost, depending on how you look at it—based on the fact that he has a third year on his contract, while Ryan Ludwick's ends after the 2014 season.

    After he as acquired from the Royals in a midseason deal, the 29-year-old went on to have an outstanding 25 games with the team, allowing a 2.82 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP in 22.1 innings pitched. After those 25 games, he earned himself a huge three-year, $21 million contract worth an average of $7 million annually.

    Broxton was injured for most of the 2013 season and only made 34 appearances—the third lowest total of his career (including his rookie season).

    Maybe, hopefully, the injury played into it, but when he was on the mound, he was not effective. Over 30.2 innings pitched, the big right-hander allowed a 4.11 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP and per-nine averages of 7.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 7.9 H/9 and 1.2 HR/9.

    Broxton has two more years left on his contract, so there is time to turn it around—early projections give him a 3.61 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 2014. Unfortunately for both him and the Reds, this projected stat line hardly justifies a $7 million contract when you consider the quality of bullpen arms further up this list.

17. Ryan Ludwick

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 34

    Length of Contract: Two years (2013-2014)

    Total Value of Contract: $14 million

    Adjusted Annual Value: $7 million

    Like I said in the Intro, you can't fault a player for getting as much money as he can during his limited window of opportunity, and that is true of Ryan Ludwick as well.

    After maximizing his earning potential with an impressive 2012 season, he managed to earn himself a two-year, $14 million contract for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. After an offseason filled with optimism surrounding a repeat performance and what it would do for the offense, he tore his labrum in the first game of the 2013 season.

    Upon his return, the 35-year-old managed a paltry .240/.293/.326 slash line with two home runs, seven extra-base hits, 12 RBI, seven runs scored and a 29:10 K/BB ratio over 38 games played.

    Ludwick will likely benefit from a full offseason of strength and conditioning work. However, given the inconsistent nature of his career, it's hard to imagine that in his age-35 season he can justify his $7 million salary in 2014.

16. Jack Hannahan

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 34

    Length of Contract: Two years (2013-2014)

    Total Value of Contract: $4 million

    Adjusted Annual Value: $2 million

    Jack Hannahan avoids being ranked as the worst contract on this team because Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Ludwick are two of the most overpaid players in the league at their respective positions.

    The 34-year-old is the owner of a career .232/.316/.349 slash line with season averages of four home runs, 12 doubles, 24 RBI and 23 runs scored. Unfortunately, in 2013 with the Reds, he came nowhere near those numbers.

    Over 83 games, the 33-year-old managed a .216/.317/.288 triple slash with one home run, five doubles, 14 RBI and 12 runs scored. The veteran infielder was signed to a two-year, $4 million contract prior to the 2013 season in an effort to help strengthen the bench.

    Hannahan is entering the final year of his contract with the Reds, and he'll need a massive turnaround if he's going to even come close to justifying the $4 million he'll have earned between 2013 and 2014.

15. Brandon Phillips

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 31

    Contract Length: Six years (2012-2017)

    Total Contract Value: $72.5 million

    Adjusted Annual Value: $12.08 million

    Welcome to the curious case of Brandon Phillips. It's like the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, just way more complicated.

    The 32-year-old second baseman earned a sizable six-year extension at the beginning of the 2012 season and has since seen his production drop in successive seasons. In 2011, he had arguably his best season as a pro. The then 30-year-old managed a .300/.353/.457 slash line with 18 home runs, 38 doubles, 82 RBI, 94 runs scored and 14 stolen bases.

    In the two seasons following his stellar 2011 campaign, Phillips averaged a .271/.315/.412 triple slash, with season averages of 18 home runs, 27 doubles, 90 RBI, 83 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. Aside from the RBI total, the slash line and season averages from the 2012-2013 seasons were largely carried by his 2012 campaign.

    Even before the stark downturn in production, he had the audacity to call his contract, and the fact that the Reds re-signed Joey Votto—who he acknowledged as one of the best players in baseball—"a slap in the facebefore they re-signed him. He then followed up his comments with the decline outlined above.

    Phillips' A.A.V. has him in line with Dustin Pedroia in terms of earning potential. Over that same two-year span that Phillips has begun to decline, the 30-year-old Pedroia averaged .296/.360/.431 slash line with season averages of 12 home runs, 40 doubles, 74 RBI, 86 runs scored and 18 stolen bases.

    On a team that Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter predicted to have a maximum payroll of $118 million in 2014—and that may even be generous—it's hard to justify spending a nearly a 10th of it on a declining player like Phillips.

14. Chris Heisey

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 29

    Length of Contract: One year (2014)

    Projected Arbitration Salary: $1.7 million

    In 2011—his first season of 100-plus games played—Chris Heisey captivated Reds fans to the tune of a .254/.309/.487 slash line, with 18 home runs, 50 RBI and 44 runs scored. His supporters will say that all he needs is consistent playing time, but that won't change his free-swinging approach at the plate.

    Heisey played 120 games in successive seasons between 2011 and 2012, and in those seasons, the 29-year-old managed 37 walks. You read that correctly: In 683 plate appearances—roughly a full season's worth for a starter—Heisey managed 37 walks.

    He is best suited for his current role as a right-handed bench bat who can sub in and hit a home run. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Heisey is projected to earn $1.7 million through arbitration this offseason, which is a fair salary given his capacity for offensive production.

13. Skip Schumaker

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 34

    Length of Contract: Two years (2014-2015)

    Total Value of Contract: $5 million

    Adjusted Annual Value: $2.5 million

    Skip Schumaker has been a a solid reserve player and occasional starter for the past nine seasons. Now, after a decent showing with the Dodgers in 2013, the longtime Cardinal has found his way to Cincinnati.

    He brings a vast level of versatility to the Reds bench. Over the course of his career, he has locked down multiple positions including second base, left field, center field and right field. The 33-year-old has even pitched three times in his career.

    Schumaker's career slash line of .285/.344/.372 is good enough for a solid utility player on a contending team, just as long as you don't expect him to come off the bench and extend or win a game with a home run.

    With Clint Barmes, Willie Bloomquist and Rafael Furcal all set to earn contracts that pay them $2 million or more in the 2014 season, it's hard to argue against Schumaker making $5 million over the next two seasons.

12. Brayan Pena

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 32

    Length of Contract: Two years (2014-2015)

    Total Value of Contract: $2.75 million

    Adjusted Annual Value: $1.375 million

    Brayan Pena may not have been the most attractive option to replace Ryan Hanigan, but if the Reds were going to give Devin Mesoraco a chance to be the team's everyday starter in 2014, they couldn't justify overspending on a backup.

    Though he isn't a great player by any means, Pena can be serviceable in short bursts. The 32-year-old owns a career slash line of .258/.292/.359, has more pop than Hanigan and boasts a career caught-stealing percentage of 29 percent—slightly higher than the big league average of 27 percent over the last seven years.

    Hanigan is projected to earn $2.3 million through arbitration; Pena will earn slightly more than that over the entirety of his two-year contract. For a team looking to cut costs wherever possible in order to procure long-term extensions for players like Mat Latos and Homer Bailey, every dollar counts.

11. Manny Parra

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 31

    Contract Length: Two years (2014-2015)

    Total Contract Value: $5.5 million

    Adjusted Annual Value: $2.75 million

    In 2013, Manny Parra took one of the shakiest starts of any reliever in recent Reds history and turned it into a solid season.

    After his first 12 appearances—10.2 innings pitched—Parra had a horrifying stat line of an 8.44 ERA, a 2.53 ERA and per-nine averages of 13.6 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 19.5 H/9 and 3.4 HR/9. From his 12th appearance forward—a span of 45 games—he was a completely different pitcher, allowing a 1.78 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP while averaging 10.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 4.3 H/9 and 0.3 HR/9.

    Parra cashed in on those final 45 games to net a two-year, $5.5 million deal with the Reds. Cincinnati isn't paying him much to begin with, but the value of his contract to the team will depend on whether or not he's can duplicate his overall performance from 2013.

    If Parra can replicate that 2013 season, his $2.75 million A.A.V. suggests that he'll be a huge steal for the Reds. However, his track record suggests that we should prepare for a bit of regression over the 31-year-old's two-year deal.

10. Sean Marshall

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 30

    Contract Length: Three years (2013-2015)

    Total Contract Value: $16.5 million

    Adjusted Annual Value: $5.5 million

    Sean Marshall made his way to Cincinnati through a trade with the Chicago Cubs that occurred prior to the 2012 season. Shortly after, the Reds inked Marshall to a contract extension that will keep him in Cincinnati through the 2015 season for $16.5 million.

    He immediately rewarded the organization by logging 61 innings in 2012, allowing a 2.51 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP with per-nine averages of 10.9 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 8.1 H/9 and 0.4 HR/9.

    Unfortunately for both him and the Reds, the 31-year-old lefty was sidelined for most of the 2013 season with issues stemming from shoulder tendinitis. However, when he was actually able to pitch, he was dominant, allowing a 1.74 ERA and a 0.58 WHIP over 10.1 innings pitched between April, May and September.

    Similarly to Marshall, just more than a month ago, Boone Logan—another solid left-handed reliever—signed a three-year, $16.5 million deal with the Colorado Rockies. Logan's career numbers are similar to Marshall's, and the only real difference between them is that Logan is two years younger.

    As far as getting market value for Marshall goes, the Reds got a very fair deal.

    Marshall's rating here takes a hit as concerns mount over his durability. However, if he's able to overcome those issues, then his contract would rank among the top five of this list.

9. Sam LeCure

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 30

    Length of Contract: One year (2014)

    Projected Arbitration Salary: $1 million

    Last season, Sam LeCure was arguably the most consistent and reliable reliever in the Reds bullpen. Over 61 innings, the 29-year-old allowed a 2.66 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP while averaging 9.7 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 2.75 K/BB and 7.4 H/9.

    LeCure's 2013 season was his fourth straight in which his measurables improved, and it appears that he's here to stay.

    Although early Steamer predictions have him projected for a 3.48 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP, only the latter seems like a realistic prediction. LeCure's 2013 FIP, xFIP and SIERA clocked in at 2.97, 3.32 and 3.13, respectively. Given their reliability as future ERA predictors, it's hard to see where he won't repeat the results we saw in 2013.

    If that's the case, then the $1 million that LeCure is expected to earn through arbitration this offseason will be well worth it. The veteran righty doesn't become eligible for free agency until the end of the 2016 season, so the Reds have two seasons to sap off an excellent source of cheap bullpen innings.

    As far as the bullpen goes, there's no better contract on the roster.

8. Johnny Cueto

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 25

    Contract Length: Four years (2011-2014) plus team option for 2015

    Total Contract Value: $27 million (potential for $37 million with 2015 team option)

    Adjusted Annual Value: $6.75 million

    Make no mistakes: Johnny Cueto is an ace of the highest caliber. Unfortunately, the 27-year-old has found it difficult to stay on the field recently.

    He injured his oblique during during the opening game of the 2012 postseason. The injury carried over through the offseason, plaguing him through most of 2013.

    In the time he was actually on the field, Cueto was outstanding. Over 11 starts, the veteran righty pitched 60.2 innings, allowing a 2.82 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP while averaging 7.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 2.83 K/BB and 6.8 H/9.

    His contract is just about up, and he's making $10 million this year—only slightly more than Bailey is slated to earn through arbitration.

    With a $10 million club option for the 2015 season, Cueto's contract situation can work in the Reds' favor if he has a bounce-back season in 2014. Should he rebound and regain his Cy Young-caliber form, Cueto's $10 million salary will be a mere drop in the bucket compared to what he could earn on the open market.

    Even if he has a mediocre season, with the way the market is trending, $10 million for a solid No. 2 pitcher is still a great deal.

7. Alfredo Simon

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 33

    Contract Length: One year (2014)

    Projected Arbitration Salary: $1.6 million

    After flunking out of the Orioles, Alfredo Simon made his way to Cincinnati prior to the 2012 season. When you consider his past performances, it's incredible to think that he has become one of the more reliable arms in the Reds pitching staff.

    Over the past two seasons, he has appeared in 99 games and owns a stat line that includes a 2.78 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and per-nine averages of 7.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 8.1 H/9 and 0.6 HR/9. In addition to those outstanding numbers, Simon's ERA-plus over those two seasons clocks in at an incredible 142.

    To put that in perspective, only three Reds relievers have a higher ERA-plus over the last two years: J.J. Hoover, Sean Marshall and Aroldis Chapman.

    Simon will go through the arbitration process this offseason and is projected to earn $1.6 million in 2014. With Manny Parra—a left-handed specialist, mind you—set to earn an average of $2.75 million per year over the 2014 and 2015 seasons, it's easy to see how Simon's contract is a huge win for the Reds.

6. Aroldis Chapman

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 26

    Length of Contract: One year (2014)

    Projected Arbitration Salary: $4.6 million

    Aroldis Chapman's contract is unique in the fact that the final two to three years—including his player option for 2015—would be voided if he became arbitration eligible following the 2012 or 2013 season.

    He became eligible for arbitration following the 2013 season; as a result, his original $3 million salary was converted to a bonus, and he will go through the arbitration process this offseason. Through the arbitration process, he is projected to earn $4.6 million in 2014, a slight bump up from the $3 million he was originally set to earn.

    Chapman's abilities make him the type of player you tell your grandkids about; however, he has his inconsistencies. His closest comparison, Craig Kimbrel, bests him in save percentage, inherited runners scored percentage, strike percentage and first-pitch strike percentage. Chapman's slight deficiencies in those areas, in comparison to the game's best closer, make him a volatile presence on the mound.

    Even so, the two-time All-Star is a bargain at $4.6 million. Kimbrel is projected to earn $7.25 million in arbitration, while Kenley Jansen, another close comparison to Chapman, is projected for $4.8 million.

    If you need any further evidence of the Reds getting the better end of this deal, John Axford signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract to serve as the Indians closer next year.

    This is the same Axford who lost his job as a closer after two seasons where he worked to a 4.35 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP while converting exactly zero of his save opportunities. Conversely, over that same time period, Chapman managed a 2.00 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP with a save percentage of 88 percent.

5. Mike Leake

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 26

    Contract Length: One year (2014)

    Projected Arbitration Salary: $5.9 million

    Mike Leake didn't earn any fans after a dismal 4.1 innings in the 2012 MLB playoffs. However, his 2013 season was a major step forward, and according to MLB Trade Rumors' projections, he won over his salary arbitrator as well.

    In 31 starts, Leake worked to a 3.37 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP and per-nine averages of 5.7 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 9.0 H/9 and 1.0 HR/9. On top of a stellar 2013 season, his career—outside of that disappointing 2012 season—has also been solid, especially when you consider that he's shown consistent progression as a big leaguer.

    Because of this progression and that impressive 2013 season, Leake is projected to earn $5.9 million in arbitration this offseason. Though it may seem like a steep price to pay for a fourth or fifth starter, a starting pitcher's value is determined by on-field production, not his place in the rotation.

    Consider this: Scott Kazmir, who is four years older than Leake and was also absent from Major League Baseball for essentially two seasons prior to a decent 2013 campaign, is set to earn $22 million over the next two seasons. Even if Leake were to improve upon his 2013 season, he wouldn't sniff the $11 million in average annual salary Kazmir will earn over the next two seasons.

    With teams around the league willing to risk an average of $11 million per year on the likes of Kazmir, it's safe to say that the Reds are getting their money's worth with Leake.

4. Joey Votto

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 30

    Contract Length: 10 years (2014-2023) plus team option for 2024

    Total Contract Value: $225 million (potential for $238 million with 2024 team option)

    Adjusted Annual Value: $22.5 million

    Say what you will about Joey Votto not hitting 30 home runs or driving in 100 runs last season. The former MVP is still one of only a handful of players who could be considered the game's best hitter.

    Out of the 5075 pitches he saw the last two seasons, only 55 percent of them were strikes—the big league average is 63 percent. Despite all that, he managed a .317/.450/.520 slash line and 162-game averages of 23 home runs, 44 doubles, 77 RBI and 95 runs scored.

    When you take into account that he had little protection in the lineup and that 2013 was his first full season after multiple knee surgeries sidelined him for a good chunk of the 2012 season, it's easy to see why Votto was inked to a massive contract extension spanning the 2014-2023 seasons.

    He will be 30 next season—the first of his new deal—so past performance and comparable contracts around the league are the only things we have to assess his contract.

    Votto's track record speaks for itself. The 30-year-old is a former MVP, a four-time All-Star and also the recipient of a Gold Glove Award. Prior to his injury-shortened season in 2012, he managed 162-game averages of 32 home runs, 41 doubles, 106 RBI and 98 runs scored.

    As for other contracts around the league, Albert Pujols' 10-year deal locks him up through his age-41 season, while Votto's only lasts through his age-39 season. Given Pujols' production over the first two years of his new deal and that his contract carries a slightly higher A.A.V., it's safe to say that to this point, the Reds signed the better contract.

    Another comparable contract is the one that Robinson Cano recently signed with the Mariners. That deal will lock him up through his age-40 season, while his contract's A.A.V. clocks in at a ridiculous $24 million.

    Cano is a middle infielder, and the most likely scenario has his body aging at a rate that exceeds Votto's, given the physical toll taken on middle infielders.

    When compared to similar contracts around the league, Votto's deal starts to look much more favorable than it otherwise might.

3. Homer Bailey

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 28

    Contract Length: One year (2014)

    Projected Arbitration Salary: $9.5 million

    Despite what the numbers over his career may say, Homer Bailey has arguably the best pure stuff of any pitcher in the Reds' starting rotation.

    The 27-year-old righty struggled through his 2007 and 2008 seasons, but ever since he joined the rotation as a full-time starter in 2009, he has done nothing but improve. All of that improvement culminated in 2013, when he posted his best season as a big leaguer, allowing a 3.49 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP while averaging 8.6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 3.69 K/BB and 7.8 H/9.

    Bailey, much like Justin Verlander, possesses the rare ability to display increased velocity as he progresses through a game. Bailey's talent isn't in question; however, his willingness to sign long term with the Reds is.

    The Reds have expressed interest in signing him to a long-term deal. This season, however, they will have to settle for arbitration—Bailey is projected to earn $9.5 million through that process.

    Bailey—a 27-year-old with front-end stuff—is set to earn roughly $9-10 million in salary arbitration. On the open market, a team could be expected to pay anywhere from $15-20 million per year for his services.

    Obviously the arbitration process sets the payment bar lower than market value, but even so, with the way he's been trending over the past five seasons—and more so in the last two—Bailey is one of the biggest steals on the roster.

2. Jay Bruce

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Age in First Year of Contract: 24

    Length of Contract: Six years (2011-2016) plus team option for 2017

    Total Contract Value: $51 million (potential for $63 million with 2017 team option)

    Adjusted Annual Value: $8.5 million

    After just barely being edged out by the No. 1 contract, Jay Bruce and his six-year, $51 million contract come in at No. 2.

    With Bruce, the Reds were able to buy out all of his arbitration years at a price that's team friendly. In addition to the team-friendly value of the contract, the Reds were able to backload his contract, giving them a great deal of financial flexibility early on—Bruce earned just $15.25 million in the contract's first three years.

    From a production standpoint, he has been outstanding over the first three years of his contract. Between 2011-2013, he averaged a .257/.332/.488 slash line, with season averages of 32 home runs, 35 doubles, 102 RBI, 87 runs scored and 97 runs created.

    He is set to earn $10, $12 and $12.5 million over the last three seasons of his current deal, and for a 26-year-old who's already compiled 164 home runs, a 16.5 WAR and a career ISO of .225, that's a small price to pay.

    Bruce's deal has an A.A.V. of $8.5 million, and as long as outfielders like Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and B.J. Upton are pulling in contracts with A.A.V.s of $10-plus million, Bruce's contract will continue to be a steal for the Reds.

1. Mat Latos

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    Age in First Year of Contract: 25

    Length of Contract: Two years (2013-2014)

    Total Contract Value: $11.5 million

    Adjusted Annual Value: $5.75 million

    Mat Latos is the biggest steal on the Reds roster. The now 26-year-old righty signed a team-friendly two-year deal prior to the 2013 season with an A.A.V. of $5.75 million.

    The team also managed to buy out some of his arbitration years with his recent contract.

    Generally, this move is good for both sides. By buying out a player's first few—or sometimes all—arbitration years, the team provides him a little early financial security while also giving the front office the opportunity to bypass the unattractive arbitration process.

    If the Reds had chosen to bypass Latos' extension and opt for arbitration, they'd likely be paying him a figure at or above the one projected for Homer Bailey earlier in this article. Essentially, by avoiding arbitration, the Reds managed to get Latos—a Cy Young-caliber pitcher—at about half the price he's worth in arbitration and a third of what he's worth on the open market.

    Given his production in the first year of his contract, it's hard to argue that the Reds didn't make their best deal in recent memory. In 2013, he managed a 14-7 record to go along with a 3.16 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and per-nine averages of 8.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 8.4 H/9 and 0.6 HR/9.